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An Introduction to Google Adwords

When you perform a search on Google on the right hand side of the search results (and sometimes at the top) you'll see a series of adverts under a heading "Sponsored Links".  These adverts are from the Google Adwords programme.

How does it work?

Advertisers set up an account with Google and then build up a list of keywords that they would like their adverts to appear against when someone performs a search for a given term.

Adwords enables you to choose where geographically adverts are shown - for example throughout the UK, within London or even within a 20 mile radius of a map point or postcode. You can also choose certain days or times that you want your adverts to run.

An additional option is to advertise on the Google Content Network - this places your ads on other websites where there is a match between your keywords and the content of the web page in question.

Why use Adwords?

Adwords is a search engine marketing pay per click program.  You only pay anything when someone actually clicks onto your advert and you can set up a daily limit for your advertising so it's easy to maintain control over your spend.  

The idea behind Adwords (and other similar search engine marketing programmes) is that people only see your advert when they are searching for something relevant to what you sell or the services you provide.  As such if they click through to your site they are far more likely to be interested in what your company or organisation offers.

Adwords has the advantage that it's easy to set up a basic campaign meaning that you can start driving traffic to your website very quickly.  Other online marketing techniques - particularly Search Engine Optimisation - can take time to take effect.

Another advantage over generalised advertising is that Adwords is highly accountable.  You can monitor exactly what adverts and keywords are generating clicks through to your site and if you also set up Google Analytics you can then monitor in detail what people go on to do.  

This can enable you to refine your campaigns over time - if a lot of people click through to your site for example but never go on to buy anything you can reconsider your approach.

How much does it cost?

Google uses an auction process to determine what order adverts should appear in.  Not surprisingly the higher your advert appears in the sponsored links column the better it performs.  

Click through rates to Adwords adverts tend to be much lower than for general search results - thus if you do not make the first page of adverts it's likely that the click through rate to your site will be very low. You'll generate much more traffic if your advert appears in the top three sponsored links.

For each keyword you set the maximum you would be prepared to pay for someone to click through to your site. Some keywords will be worth more to your organisation than others depending on the nature of your services and the terminology people are most likely to use to search for them.

Once you have entered a maximum cost per click (CPC) for a keyword and someone performs a search for it Google will then look at everyone who is bidding for that keyword and list adverts accordingly.  You won't always pay the maximum CPC - for example if all of your competitors are bidding much lower than you - you'll find that your average cost per click is a lot lower than the maximum value too.

Adverts are not ordered solely by the amount you bid - the historic performance of your Adwords account and the relevance of the keyword to your advert and the page that it directs visitors to is also important.  This is referred to as a quality factor.  

If you have a high quality score for a particular keyword you'll find that your advert does better and average the cost per click is lower than it might otherwise be.

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